I get email

Oh, look. I got an invitation.

Invitation to Publish a Critique: Fungi/Tube Worms on Mars

Dear Dr. Myers

You have been cited in news articles as stating you believe Dr. Joseph’s work is harmful to science and to the field of astrobiology. We are aware you are a leading opponent of all claims favoring extraterrestrial life. The Journal of Astrobiology is very interested in publishing your views

The Editors of the Journal of Astrobiology (JOA) are inviting you to submit a critical analysis of the claims and recent findings of Dr. Rhawn Joseph and his team, RE: Fungi on Mars. Tube Worms on Mars.

If you accept our invitation, the critical analysis must be scholarly, fully referenced, and less than 2000 words, including Abstract, Title, Figure Captions.

We are aware of the insults, false statements and personal and hominem attacks directed at Dr. Joseph by some science news reporters. We are confident, if you should decide to submit a critical analysis, your article will be scholarly and factual.

Your article will be peer reviewed. However, be assured: JOA is interested in publishing your views.

There are no page or publication charges. All articles are published online, open access, and authors have the right to reprint and post their article at Researchgate and their website.


Sheila Van Akker
Managing Editor

Right. Please write us a review that doesn’t point out the idiocy of our work, and dignifies it by treating it as if if were serious scholarly research.

No. It’s garbage.

Also, I’m not a leading opponent of all claims favoring extraterrestrial life. I’m just someone who can clearly see when a pseudoscientific fraud is trying to bamboozle the public.


  1. blf says

    @5, “Complete nonsense” is only two words, and (in this case) very adequate as the title, abstract, contents, and press release.

  2. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    @6: 2000 words would not be enough for the supporting list of references though.

  3. tacitus says

    Oof. I just skimmed a couple of articles on their site, including their editorial “Is There Life on Mars?” and even as someone who would love to see the day when extraterrestrial life of any kind is discovered, I can see it’s just pseudoscience and borderline conspiracy theory presented with a bouquet of footnotes and references. “Hey look, we have photos of stuff on Mars that look vaguely like biological stuff that was published in papers here on Earth! See! We have references!”

    I say borderline conspiracy theory because they don’t appear to come right out and accuse NASA of covering up evidence for extraterrestrial life, sticking to a tone of bemused puzzlement, disappointment, and concern as to why they didn’t and don’t investigate further, content to let their readership “join the dots,” I guess.

    I almost miss Richard C. Hoagland and his Face on Mars, abandoned Phobos moon resort and debris fields of discarded ancient technology. At least he didn’t clutter up his website with footnotes and references.

  4. Owlmirror says

    “Pareidolia is not science” is four words. You could probably gin up a good summary of the phenomenon, and add references for that summary.

    But why bother? I doubt they care.

    As noted:

    Ignore review requests from “The Journal of Astrobiology” to review a paper claiming rocks on Mars are tube worms. The paper and the “journal” try to trick researchers into participating in their nonsense. They also harass critics

    Linking back to some older posts: 2021-05-13, 2021-05-07, 2020-07-02, 2019-03-25

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Invitation to Publish a Critique: Fungi/Tube Worms on Mars

    Here ya go: Edgar Rice Burroughs did well to discard this manuscript at the title phase and proceed onward to The Mucker.

  6. Owlmirror says

    Rhawn Joseph has a Researchgate page. Check it out, there’s more than just Martian pareidolia.

      • Quantum Physics of God: How Consciousness Became the Universe and Created Itself
      • The Time Machine of Consciousness Quantum Physics and the Time Machine of Consciousness: Past Present Future Exist Simultaneously. Entanglement, Tachyons, Relative Time, Circle of Time, Quantum Time, Dream Time, PreCognition, Retrocausation, Deja Vu, and Premonitions
      • Quantum Physics of the Sixth Dimension: Dream Time, Precognition, Many Worlds


  7. birgerjohansson says

    I had a vision that Alpha Centauri Ab is actually flat. I am going to publish that in the journal of the Flat Earth Society. That will surely grant me a place in the history books.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Tacitus @ 10
    The good old days of Hoagland, Dubya and mere flying saucers instead of sub-pizzeria pedophile cannibals….

  9. tacitus says

    Invitation to Publish a Critique: Fungi/Tube Worms on Mars

    NASA’s entire planetary science budget is currently $2.7 billion a year, with only $400 million assigned to current and future Mars missions. If, as these idiots seem to believe, the photos taken by the four latest Mars rover missions are positively overflowing with evidence of bacterial life, past and present, the NASA scientists would ignore it or cover it up and leave what would almost certainly be a minimum ten-fold budgetary increase on the table, potentially far more?

    And if not NASA, why not ESA or CNSA or RFSA?

    This is a big problem for the “true believers.” The more obvious they claim their evidence is, the less credible their explanations for why all the major space agencies are ignoring it become.

  10. monad says

    It is well-known that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. [1] The article in question does not however even provide ordinary evidence. As proof one can simply take a photo of an ordinary patch of rocks without tube worms and provide exactly as much indication of them (Fig. 1), meaning that the entire article is based on incorrect reasoning. Journals consistently reject or withdraw articles written with standards still considerably higher than that as essentially fraudulent. [2-8]

    Fig. 1. A picture of a rocky beach with circles drawn on it.

    1. Carl Sagan, Cosmos.
    2-8. I can google these later, if anyone wants.

  11. profpedant says

    I am completely comfortable believing that Earth is not the only planet that hosts life (I’m even willing to believe we are not the only intelligent species in the universe), but the amount of astonishment I would feel if alien life was discovered in my lifetime is as vast as space itself (and I’m convinced that the entire universe is much larger than the visible universe).

  12. says

    Weeeeeeeelllllllll……… Some of the moons of Jupiter could pull it off. All you really need is a stable, liquid environment, a bit of chemical potential and time.

  13. says


    <sarcasm> Footnote 1 is not sufficiently researched, as it fails to acknowledge prior formulations of the same theory by Hume, Descartes, Kant, and Goethe. Please revise, keeping in mind the 2,000 word limit. </sarcasm>

    The whole thing reminds me — showing my age, I’m afraid — of one episode of the 1970s TV series UFO, which demonstrated the necessity of including scale and distance data on photographic intelligence by showing that a purported photo of a “planetary horizon” was a live video display of a female lieutenant’s miniskirted thigh with a desk light just below it. But then, for later professional reasons I’m all too aware of the limitations of photographs taken from distance in determining the true nature and condition of even things as big as dams.

  14. unclefrogy says

    it is becoming clear to me that there is a sizable percent of people in the western modern societies that do do not know what science is and how it works. I have been slow to realize this because so much of the modern world is built upon scientific principles and understanding. scientific analysis is even used by sports for the competitive advantage it enables.
    they can’t tell fiction from fact, and will believe any damn fool story. they seem to have a 17th century grasp of reality.
    I question surfaces “does product advertising contribute to that ?”

  15. komarov says

    Was this about the article with lots and lots and lots (…) of cribbed rover pictures claiming that everything on them was worms and fungi? (Ok, that still might not be specific enough for an R.J. paper)

    The counterpoint should be easy: Short abstract, e.g., ‘it’s rubbish’ or some other of the shorthand suggestions already made here, followed by lots and lots (…) of pictures. Mainly screenshots of previous blog posts on this. Sources? Citations? No problem, see fig. 143 – 199, all screenshots of articles, tweets etc. by other people.Total word count? Around twenty, depending on how verbose (“scientific”) you want the title to be.

  16. indianajones says

    This is very apropos for me. I know someone who is all in on woo but is just starting to maybe kinda sorta question it if I am nice about it. So, I’m trying to be, She asked me to take a look at an 8 line Gish Gallop of a FB post with an accompanying pretty picture of the Cheops Pyramid, I just wrote 1600 words pointing out the logical fallacies that I spotted in it. Not even trying to point out what actual, as opposed to ‘Sacred’, geometry has to say about triangles, or how ‘True Pi’ is not an especially useful thing. Just that their calculations, such as they are, using their constants simply don’t work. 1600 words, without references or anything much else.

    I doubt I would be able to clear my throat in less than 2000 words, let alone fully debunk with supporting evidence, this. Even if I were an expert Astro-biologist.

  17. wsierichs says

    The journal needs to find a writer to do a comprehensive book titled “Fungi From Barsoom.” It could be a best-seller. (Yes, I actually managed to mix Lovecraft and ER Burroughs together.)

  18. DanDare says

    When they say your article will be “peer reviewed” do they mean alteted, quote mined and used as a source of things to fabricate proof for.

  19. whheydt says

    Re: Erlend Meyer @ #24…
    Those conditions are why I’ve thought some some time now that Titan is worth investigating for “Life, but not as we know it”. I think that a surface probe there should include a boat, line, and fishhook.

  20. says


    they can’t tell fiction from fact, and will believe any damn fool story. they seem to have a 17th century grasp of reality.

    In some ways it may be worse. Today, people can live their lives quite isolated from reality. If you live in a city, you don’t actually need to know very much about the real world to survive, because you’re not really living in the real world anymore. You’re living in an artificial, human-made construct.
    E.g. you don’t need to know where your food comes from, you just go to the grocery store and there it is. You don’t need to know how any appliance works, you buy it new and throw it away when it breaks. Water? You just open the tap. Easy.

    All the work to make the system run is hidden away. There’s no reason you should ever go near a farm, a water treatment plant, or the factory that makes your phone. If you don’t personally work with something, you probably don’t know that much about it. While the information is technically available, it takes a deliberate effort to find out and most people have other things to do, like making enough money that they can still go to the grocery store and pay the water bill.

    People deal with the reality they face and large parts of reality simply aren’t part of their daily lives. One these subjects, they only know what other people tell them and if they start listening to the wrong people, it’s not hard to see how they can go off track. They never actually meet the reality that could let them know they’re wrong.
    E.g. how many of the people who support a border wall have ever been to the border? How many of them have experience building walls or managing large construction projects? How many of them could accurately explain the immigration rules? Do they have any idea what they’re actually supporting, in real world, practical terms?
    Why would they? The physical reality of a wall simply isn’t relevant for the political reality they live in.

    That ended up being a bit of a rant. Hope it makes some kind of sense.

  21. cvoinescu says

    LykeX @ #36: It does make sense.

    The same applies to science: unless you’re into it, or into it, you don’t really know how it’s made. You might see the press releases for the sexier developments, or the Facebook posts about the press releases, but that’s it. How can you tell those apart from the Facebook posts of the crooks or the cranks?

    And if all you’ve seen are the negative reviews of the medical profession — because, frankly, would you post about your visit to the GP when they found out what was wrong the first time, got you the right treatment, you had no side effects, and you got better quickly? It’s the other cases you read about — are you not more inclined to give credence to those who pooh-pooh the establishment? After all, the amount of evidence presented to you is zero in either case.

    Many times you hear “I’ve done my research”, said with a straight face, but are those people aware how different actual research is from what they do? No, you open the tap and here it is. Easy.

  22. blf says

    cvoinescu@37, “How can you tell [Facebook posts about the press release] apart from the Facebook posts of the crooks or the cranks?” Ignore factsborked entirely? </snark>
    And yes, I do realise that reply does not answer the sensible question actually asked, it’s instead a “work-around” which, to some extent, avoids a flaw whilst not fixing any problem.

    Apologies! I’m perhaps crankier (not in the loon sense) than normal at the moment… I’ve just been replying to an eejit at another site who said, referring to mRNA Covid-19 vaccines here in France, paraphrasing, It is compulsory experimental gene therapy, like the 1930s. The short form of my reply was “Wrong on all points”, albeit I did supply one-sentence refutations of each of the fours assertions (compulsory, experimental, gene therapy, and the sick comparison to the 1930s).

  23. whheydt says

    Re: LykeX @ #36…
    I majored in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) in the last half of the 1960s. I spent an entire career as a programmer. I have lost track of how many people deal with computers, in one form or another, on a daily basis and have no idea what one is or how it works. Eben Upton (the main driver behind the Raspberry Pi) refers to some of this as the “black box trap”. He is thinking of smart phones and tablets, but it applies to Chromebooks (that schools are using), laptops and desktop PCs as well.

    One of the recurring themes in my life is retail clerks, who when asked to anything even slightly out of the ordinary reply that “the computer won’t let them do that.” My standard answer for some decades has been, “I’m a programmer. I can fix that. My hourly rate is …” At that point, the answer becomes some variant on “I don’t know how to do it” or what is usually the true answer, “it’s a hassle for me to do that” (and which point, they go ahead and do it). The line about the computer can’t or won’t let one do something is near universally BS, and the person saying it knows that. When challenged on it, they’ll almost invariably back down.

    MY reality is full of computers.

  24. birgerjohansson says

    Jaws @ 25
    I recognise that episode!
    It was not shown on Swedish TV (back then, they still wanted to educate the people with art, music and documentaries, and saucer junk did not fit in), but I watched it on Youtube recently. Well made, but the science was…. what it was.
    The face on Mars went on to spawn an unimpressive film that demonstrated – for the millionth time- you need more than special effects to create a good film.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    Going off on a tangent, it is speculated that mini-neptune ocean worlds with hydrogen atmospheres and “bottomless” (for all practical purposes) oceans might harbour life, but not anything like the life we have.
    I am sceptic but open-minded. This does not mean we should welcome nutters that make outrageous claims about life on other worlds.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    OT – the Internet is full of junk posted by islamic enthusiasts making similarly far-fetched claims, but based on fragments from the koran instead of fragments of space images.
    I recall P Z got burned by an exchange with one such group.
    -Pseudoscience must be debunked but be aware some groups are more obnoxious than others. Getting into an exchange can lead to a protracted barrage of BS.
    As for anti-vaxxer nonsense, that hole is bottomless. I don’t think it will stop until the True Believers have literally died off.

  27. wzrd1 says

    I’d invite the author to fully discuss maters after enduring 10 seconds of MEO conditions in full sunlight.
    Survive that and you’ve made a point. In spite of needing artificial ventilator and a defibrillator.*

    *No animal has survived hard vacuum exposure beyond 90 seconds, despite extensive efforts.

  28. birgerjohansson says

    wzrd1 @ 44
    -I have an even greater respect for AronRa, who must deal with brain-melting garbage on a regular basis.
    LykeX @ 36
    …and It will get worse. A photographic plate or film was easy to understand, now cameras depend on CCD devices who depend on quantum physics for an explanation.
    In Discworld, Twoflower brought a photographic box with pixies inside who literally painted what they could see. This could be the level of understanding a few years down the road :)

  29. WhiteHatLurker says

    Re: Jaws @ 25
    That episode was a classic that stuck with me long after the show had left the airwaves. The video model was Lt. Gay Ellis, commander of Moonbase. (She was getting a bit of a dig at the SHADO leader, who was an asshat in this episode.)

    Episode in question:

    I wonder what would happen if the Tube Worms on Mars followers met the jerks peddling vermicide as a covid cure…

  30. cvoinescu says

    WhiteHatLurker @ #46:

    I wonder what would happen if the Tube Worms on Mars followers met the jerks peddling vermicide as a covid cure…

    I don’t know, but I bet the video of it would go viral on the ‘tubes.

  31. Owlmirror says

    No animal has survived hard vacuum exposure beyond 90 seconds


  32. says

    Also, lots of arthropods. I used to do SEMs of insects, and yeah, we just tacked them down on a stub, put them in a vacuum, and zap them with an electron beam for a while. They’d recover just fine. The main problem was the charge build-up because we couldn’t sputter coat them, if we wanted them to survive. But I did have them under a solid vacuum for ten minutes or so.